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Ottawa Perspective: Watching Events Unfold in the US

Should the problems of the American airline industry be a concern up here?

October 3, 2007  By Ken Pole

Should the problems of the American airline industry, where US
Airways has filed for bankruptcy protection and United Airlines was
threatening to follow suit, be a concern up here? Perhaps it's too
early to tell, but that's no excuse for complacency.

Airlines virtually everywhere have been hemorrhaging money, not only
because of September 11 fallout but also because of the advent of
discount carriers. Airlines' stocks have tanked, with obvious
repercussions for their staffs in particular and the aviation industry
in general. A lot of pilots are going to lose their jobs and, given the
portability of their skills, will seek work elsewhere. The environment
is poisoned by suggestions that airline staff should lose their right
to collective bargaining.

The executive council of the largest US labour lobby, the AFL-CIO,
which has Canadian affiliates, has thrown the weight of its 14 million
members into the campaign to preserve collective bargaining. "The …
rights of airline workers face unprecedented legislative attacks by the
nation's major air carriers," it said in an August policy statement.
"Led by American, FedEx and Delta, the industry has mounted a campaign
to enact legislation that would impose `baseball-style' arbitration in
airline negotiations…. The AFL-CIO deplores the nation's airlines'
pursuit of this hostile legislative initiative and will work to defeat



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